Shifting Tide In Employee and Company Loyalty

This article was a challenge to write because I grew up in business at a time when companies and employees mutually valued (and rewarded) loyalty. The prevailing thinking at the time, and even today with many, is the longer tenure with one company?and the fewer career moves to different companies?the better. As we all know, the tide has turned.

To many business executives (HR and general), the term “job-hopping” has historically connoted a negative image of the shiftless individual who couldn’t stay tied to a task long enough to be a valuable asset to the company. Slowly that stigma has eroded as more and more people enter the job force with an entirely different definition of the word “career.”

It seems like the mindset of both companies and career motivated individuals has shifted in the past decade. Many employees are no longer driven by climbing the corporate ladder and company loyalty but are focused on what they can learn and how they can contribute now?which will also be helpful to them down the line. Gone are the days when an employee would demonstrate company loyalty and stick it out at a job he/she was not passionate about in the hope of eventually being promoted to one that excites their passions. Young professionals are now much more likely to use one position as a stepping stone with the goal of moving up at a much quicker rate, even if that means getting a new job.

A Shift in Perceptions toward Company Loyalty

Those who have just entered the workforce view job-hopping as one continuous flow of experience that they combine together into a career rather than a fragmented set of jobs that leave them starting from square one every time they switch. They see each different job as a growth experience to aide their personal career path rather than being tied to the path a single company lays out for them.

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This mindset is gradually being accepted by employers as close to a third of all employers expect workers to job-hop, according to a recent industry survey. According to that same survey, 25% of all workers have held five jobs or more by the age of 35, so it’s an idea that employers should come to expect.

The logic behind the change in perception toward employee and company loyalty makes sense and, in the end, will be beneficial to both employers and employees. Since workers are seeing their career as defined by the adoption of varied skill sets and a continuing learning process, they will develop a larger breadth of skills which will benefit employers in ways they hadn’t considered.

Same as It Ever Was

The mindset of job-hopping is often being attributed as strictly a Millennial habit, but, in reality, this way of looking at career growth has been around long before Millennials saturated the job force. In fact, 20% of workers 55 and older have held ten or more jobs.

The real disconnect comes from the fact that when Baby Boomers and Gen Xers entered the workforce, the job culture dictated that jumping from one place to another demonstrated a lack of vision, commitment, and company loyalty and was generally frowned upon. So by the time they realized this wasn’t necessarily the case, they had already been in the workforce for a while. But, when Millennials entered the workforce, they came pre-installed with the mindset of putting overall career growth over tenure with a company.

Company Loyalty Is Earned

Many traditional companies may see the job-hopping mindset as less than loyal. But in this day and age, employers must consider the more difficult question: Why are employees driven to jump ship? Why is it more common than ever for people to view traditional paths to managerial positions as a less attractive option than hopping from one place to another?

More often than not the answer is that those standardized career paths and expectations of company loyalty simply don’t align with every employee’s long-term career goals anymore. So instead, they seek out other options that better fit their long-term career goals and short-term needs.

If employers want to manage and cultivate long-term company loyalty with their employees, they have to open the lines of communication (and growth) and determine how they can adapt their standardized career tracks to better meet the goals of their employees.

Regardless, this trend is likely here to stay, and it may be time for employers to lean into that change rather than fight the shifting tide.

Source: Business 2 Community